At the time of publication, all recipes were free of the allergens listed as being free of in the title (i.e. soy-free, milk-free, etc.), and all other information shared was accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY TIME to ensure that the ingredients you use are SAFE FOR YOU.
Your doctor or allergist should also be your first go-to for information on how to handle your medical needs. That being said, if you DO notice an error, please send me an email letting me know (tell me what page or recipe the error is on, what the error is, etc.), and I will correct the error ASAP.
Thank you so much!

Please Be Advised:
I make sure all of my recipes use foods that are free of the allergens they say they are free of. You will need to do the same. For help with this, please see the appropriate "Alternative Names" page for the allergen(s) you need the recipe free of.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Family Favorites - June 2019: Potato Salad (Fish, Nut, Wheat and Milk-Free, Can Be Egg-Free and Soy-Free)

I decided to keep posting a family favorite recipe from the blog (with any adaptions that we use regularly, if applicable) on the fourth Friday or Saturday of every month this year.  This recipe will be one that we make quite often and that we all enjoy greatly.  This post is the sixth Family Favorites recipe of 2019.

If you have a recipe on your blog that you consider a family favorite that you'd like to share, please comment below with a link to the recipe, and I'll make sure to pop on over and visit your site to check it out (and leave a comment), and hopefully some of my other readers will, too.

This month's Family Favorite recipe is Potato Salad.  This is essentially just a re-posting of my Potato Salad recipe with a few tips and tricks added in as needed.

What says summer more than potato salad?  It is the go-to BBQ side for us and it is perfect for a summer picnic.  With Independence Day just around the corner (I cannot believe it!), you'll want this delicious recipe on the ready.  It is fish, nut, wheat and milk-free (if all your ingredients are), and can be egg and soy-free (see variations).  What's not to love?  If you're a fan of potato salad, you'll want to whip this up yesterday!  Trust me - it is super simple to make and way better than store bought.

Potato Salad
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. (6 to 9 Cups) potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
(If you use red or yellow potatoes, you don't have to peel them.  If you use russets, you will want to peel them.  We normally use red potatoes.)

1 1/2 Cups gluten-free mayo or Miracle Whip
(We normally use Miracle Whip as we like the flavor better, but use whatever works best for you and yours.)

1 Tablespoon gluten-free vinegar (white or apple cider)
(We normally use white vinegar.)

1 Tablespoon gluten-free prepared yellow mustard

1 teaspoon onion salt
(I recommend McCormick's)

1 teaspoon salt (optional)
(We always end up adding the salt.)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 to 3 stalks (1/2 to 1 Cup) celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
(We always use the 1 Cup.)

4 to 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
(We always use 6.)

paprika (optional)
(We normally do not sprinkle paprika on top unless we want it to look fancy for a get-together.)
  1. In a large pot, cover the diced potatoes with enough water to cover them. (Note: The amount of potatoes you use is purely preference.  I always use the larger amount.)
  2. Boil the potatoes until tender; drain them.  (Note: The potatoes will take 15 to 20 minutes from the time you turn the burner on - NOT from when the water starts to boil - to cook.  You don't want them as tender as you would for mashed potatoes or they will go to mush when you mix them with your other ingredients.  I cook them until they are just fork tender, but still have a little bite left to them.)
  3. While you are waiting for your potatoes to boil, mix the mayo/Miracle Whip, vinegar, mustard, onion salt, regular salt (if using), and pepper in a large bowl.  (Note: Using mayo vs. Miracle Whip is completely based on dietary need and taste preference.  You do not have to add the regular salt, but I found that the potato salad is more bland without it.  You can also add more onion salt vs. regular salt if you want more onion flavor and saltiness.  You can even reduce the amount of salt if you think it's too much.  You can always add more, but you can't take it out once it is added!)
  4. Once the potatoes are done and drained well, add them to the bowl with the mayo/Miracle Whip mixture along with the diced celery and toss well with a wooden spoon.  (Note: The amount of celery is based on preference, and you can add a little more than a Cup or a little less than 1/2 Cup if you desire, as well.  And, yes, you want to mix the potatoes in while they are still hot.  The flavor of the potato salad turns out much better this way.)
  5. Add in the chopped eggs (amount based on preference), and mix well.  (Note: You can combine this step with step 4, but the eggs mix a little easier if mixed in separately.)
  6. Sprinkle the top of the salad with paprika, if desired.
  7. Cover and chill your potato salad for at least 4 hours before serving.  (Note: For best/optimum flavor, let the potato salad chill overnight.)
  8. Store leftovers in the fridge.
Makes a minimum of ten 3/4-Cup servings.

Variations (Please keep your individual allergen needs in mind when using substitutions!):

  • Egg-Free: Leave out the eggs and use a vegan mayo (such as one of Earth Balance's or make your own) in place of the mayo/Miracle Whip.
  • Soy-Free: Use a soy-free mayo (such as Primal Kitchen's or one of Earth Balance's or make your own), vinegar and mustard.
  • Less/More Mustard: If you aren't a fan of mustard flavor, you can reduce the amount or leave it out.  I'd try without it, try it, and then add about a teaspoon at a time until you get the flavor you want.  If you want more mustard flavor, add a teaspoon more at a time until you get your desired flavor.
  • Less Egg: As mentioned above, you can leave the eggs out entirely or add less.
  • Raw Onion vs. Onion Salt: If you like raw onion, you can replace the onion salt with 1 medium onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces (1/4 to 1/2 Cup - amount based on taste preference).  I would go with a white onion, but you could use scallions, shallots, red onion, leaks or any other type of onion you preferred.  You will want to add the regular salt if you use onion vs. onion salt, and you may find that you have to increase the salt to 2 teaspoons or a little more.  You can also use onion salt and onion if you want a lot of onion flavor.
  • Adding Pickles: If you like pickles or relish in you potato salad, you can add 1/3 to 1/2 Cup diced pickles (bread and butter or dill) or sweet relish into your potato salad (add it in step 3).

I hope you will give this recipe a try soon and that it becomes a family favorite for you, too!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Weekly Weigh In: Week 1, June 24, 2019

I have decided to do a new feature that will run at least through the summer, but possibly longer.  It will go live every Monday, and it will be a weigh in that will share how I'm doing health-wise.  This will not replace My Quarterly Report, but I do think it will give me more accountability with my health.

Here is my first weigh in {and my purpose/goals for this feature}:

1. The Selfie: The selfie is me as of today, June 24, 2019.  {I am not a fan of selfies, but decided that they would be a necessary part of this weekly feature to keep me honest.}

2. Weight: My weight has been on a roller coaster ride since I had to go off of my water pill due to a reaction to it.  This is more frustrating than you know!  As part of this feature, I will be sharing my weekly gain or loss (hopefully loss).  I won't share my exact weight (that will be saved for My Quarterly Report), but I will share the plus or minus.  Let's hope for minus! :D  Since today is the start of this feature, we will say that my weight gain/loss is +0.

3. Health News: The other part of this feature is going to be sharing health updates/news as needed.  That said, I will share that I have had my fair share of health issues lately.  Though my Fibromyalgia appears to be doing well, I am having issues with my back/ribs (I pulled my intercostal muscles back in April or May, and it has been slow going to get me back to 100% - I'd say I'm about 95% there).  I was also told that I have 7 (yes, that's seven) ovarian cysts (don't worry - they are small and not something the doctor is worried about at this point) - 4 on the right, 3 on the left - that have the doctor thinking I have PCOS.  Since I am heterozygous for Factor V Leiden, the treatment they would do for PCOS/ovarian cysts of my type (estrogen via birth control pills) is not an option.  This means that I have get another ultrasound in 5 months, and basically just monitor my symptoms and try other ways to help my cysts not get worse (which includes dietary changes).  They could go away on their own, too, which is the other reason for the repeat ultrasound.  At any rate, other than those things, I'm doing pretty well.  I'm in good spirits, but I would definitely appreciate prayers for all of this!  Thanks!

4. Diet News:  As I alluded to above, my diet needs some work.  I did some research on PCOS, and it sounds like it is part of the reason I'm having weight loss struggles, and I can definitely benefit from a diet that doesn't contain a large amount of soy (this point is debatable, but I know already my body and soy don't get along, so I know soy needs to go as much as possible), is low in processed food, and is essentially as natural as possible.  I have recently suspected an issue with whey and other dairy byproducts (not regular dairy - I am ok with cheese and milk and other main dairy products, but whey and things like it seem to be an issue), too.  I also know that I have trouble with too much sugar (of any form - honey, molasses, cane, etc.), too much grease (bacon and sausage can be a real issue depending on brand and how much I eat of them, and fried foods or foods cooked with a lot of butter or fat (think fried chicken, scrambled eggs if they have been cooked in a lot of grease, pizza)), and too many carbs in general (other than rice - wheat, oats and other grains can be an issue if I have too much especially if they are overly processed, though I seem to do pretty good with sourdough if I'm going to eat bread).  I also am having issues with even decaf coffee if I have it too often.  That all being said, I have a LOT of dietary changes to make.  Wish me luck!  {For more information on PCOS diets and to get a glimpse of some of the food changes I'll be making, click here and here.}

5. Other News: If I have anything else to share, I will share it here.  Other than this starting off to be an insanely busy summer, I have nothing else to share today. :)  

How are you doing?  Do you have anything you want to weigh in with?  Any health progress or goals you want to share?  If so, please leave a comment below (with a link to your post, if you have one and wish to leave it), and I'll respond ASAP.

Have a great week!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Recent Reflections - June 2019: Summer

This is the sixth Recent Reflections post of 2019.  Recent Reflections goes live the third Friday or Saturday of each month.  Each Recent Reflections post covers something that I'm reflecting on.  If you'd like to share a post with a similar theme, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post, and I'll hop on over and leave a comment (and maybe some other readers will, too).

This month, I will be reflecting on summer.

I can hardly believe it is the first day of summer!  Wasn't it just January?  Where has the time gone?  The older I get, the faster time flies.

Summer is a time where most of us get to relax a bit more, be a little lazy, enjoy some gorgeous weather, BBQ a bit, and just breathe a bit easier.  This summer, I want to make it a habit to reflect and enjoy the extra time I have with my kids.  I know they won't be little forever (my oldest will be a Senior next year!), and I want to enjoy these days while I have them.  These days are days to make memories that I (and they) can enjoy for a lifetime.

Later today, my family and I will attend a wedding of our pastor's daughter.  It will be a bittersweet time.  We are so excited for them, but we are a bit sad for us.  We will miss her tremendously, but we know that she is following God's perfect will, so that gives us joy.

If you're reading this, Meghan and Bobby, congratulations!  We love you and wish you all the best as you start your life together as husband and wife!  Such exciting times are ahead of you, and we will be praying for you as you serve the Lord together!  Come visit when you can, and know that you will always have a home here with us at BBCCL!

I truly hope this post has been a blessing to your heart, or at the least made you stop and think a little.  What has God done in your life lately to bless you?  What are you reflecting on?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Gluten-Free Strawberry Lemon Muffins (Wheat, Nut and Fish-Free, Can Be Egg, Milk and Soy-Free)

School is out, and summer is just around the corner (officially - I count June 1st as the beginning of summer, but it technically doesn't begin until June 21st).  For me, one of the best parts of summer is the abundance of fresh, local produce - especially the berries!  They are wonderful fresh, used as a topping for yogurt or ice cream, baked into pies, or baked into muffins like with this recipe.

My favorite summer combo is lemon and strawberry, and that's what inspired this recipe.  These muffins are tart and sweet, bright and fresh, and sure to please fans of strawberry and lemon alike!  It was an instant family favorite, so you'll definitely want to try it if lemon and strawberry are your thing!

This recipe is adapted from my Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins recipe, and is wheat, nut and fish-free (if all your ingredients are), and can be egg, milk and soy-free (see variations).  This means these muffins can be extremely allergy-friendly, too!  And it requires only 8 ingredients!  Easy and delicious!

Note: The gluten-free baking mix I recommend does not technically contain soy, but it does contain xanthan gum (see "Soy-Free" under variations for more details) which can cause issues for people with soy sensitivities or allergies, and that is why I will not claim that this recipe is soy-free.

Gluten-Free Strawberry Lemon Muffins

3 Cups gluten-free baking mix 
(I always use King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix, and yes, it has to be a baking mix, NOT a gluten-free flour or the recipe will not turn out right.)

1 Cup white sugar
(I always use cane sugar.)

1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
(My favorite brand to use is O-LIVE, but I also have used others, but I always use extra virgin olive oil.)

4 large eggs

1/2 Cup milk
(I always use whole milk.)

1/2 Cup lemon juice
(You can use fresh-squeezed or bottled.  Bottled is normally gluten-free, but always double check your labels!)

1 to 2 teaspoon gluten-free lemon extract
(I normally use McCormick brand.)
1 to 2 Tablespoon lemon zest

1 1/2 Cups fresh strawberries, diced into small pieces (smaller than bite-size)

white sugar (for topping) (optional)
(I use cane or turbinado sugar for the topping.) 

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. Prepare muffin tins with 24 paper cups or grease tins well with fat of choice.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the gluten-free baking mix and 1 Cup sugar until well blended and set aside.
  4. In another larger bowl, mix the oil, egg, milk, lemon juice and lemon extract or zest until well blended.  (Note: The amount of lemon extract, if you are using it, is up to you.  I like a lot of lemon flavor, so I use 2 teaspoons, but you can use 1 teaspoon.  If you use lemon zest instead of lemon extract, the amount is also based on preference.  You'll want to use the smaller amount for less intense lemon flavor, more for more intense lemon flavor.)
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until the  mixture is just blended.
  6. Fold in the strawberries until evenly distributed.  (Note: I find cutting the strawberries into smaller than bite-sized pieces works best to assure that each muffin gets a decent amount of strawberries in it.  I would say I cut the strawberries into no bigger than a 1/4-inch dice.)
  7. Evenly distribute the muffin mixture between the 24 muffin cups and top each one with extra sugar, if desired. (Note: The amount of sugar you put on top of each muffin is up to you, but I recommend about a teaspoon per muffin, but you could put as much as a Tablespoon per muffin.)
  8. Let the muffins rest about 10 minutes before baking.  (Note: This ensures the best results, so please don't skip this step!)
  9. Bake the muffins for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Let the muffins sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and allowing them to finish cooling on the counter or a wire rack.
  11. Enjoy them warm or let them cool completely before enjoying - whichever you prefer!
Makes 24 muffins.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using variations):

  • Milk-Free: Use non-dairy milk of your choice in place of the milk, and use either paper cups to line the tins or a non-dairy fat to grease the pans in this recipe.  You could also substitute water or more lemon juice or another juice (see "Different Flavors" below for more ideas) for the milk.
  • Egg-Free: Use an egg replacer in place of the eggs.  For ideas on what to use in place of the eggs, check out my ingredient substitutions page.  The flax seed "egg" or applesauce replacement would be a good fit with these muffins.
  • Soy-Free: King Arthur Flour's Gluten-Free Baking Mix does not claim to contain soy, but it does contain xanthan gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies, and hence the reason I won't claim this recipe is soy-free already.  You can use another soy-free baking mix (if you can have wheat/gluten) or soy-free, gluten-free baking mix of your choice.  Keep in mind that if your baking mix doesn't contain guar gum or xanthan gum, you may need to add between 3/4 to 3 teaspoons of ground flax seed, guar gum or xanthan gum to help with textural issues, too.  You'll have to make sure all your ingredients are soy-free, too.

  • Different Flavors: If you are not an strawberry fan, you can substitute dried cranberries, peach, blueberry, raspberry, or another fruit of choice (though I don't recommend pumpkin, banana or any other "mushy" fruit) that you like with lemon flavor.  You can use a combination of fruits, too, as long as you don't exceed  1 1/2 Cups of fruit.  I recommend using fresh fruit or dried fruit ONLY, as canned or frozen fruit will alter your texture greatly.  You can also top the muffins with plain sugar or nothing, if you so desire.  You could also play around with different juices for the milk and/or lemon juice like orange, lime, or pineapple, leave off the sugar topping (if desired), and pick a fruit or dried fruit of choice to mix in.  For example, for a Cranberry Orange Muffin, I would sub orange juice for the milk and lemon juice (so 1 Cup total) and stir in dried cranberries vs. strawberries and use orange extract/zest vs. lemon extract/zest.  That would be heavenly, I think!  You could also try stirring in chocolate chips vs. fruit if you like lemon and chocolate together.  You can also use another extract instead of lemon, if desired, or use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lemon and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of another extract (like vanilla, almond, orange, etc.).  You could even add some chopped nuts or shaved almonds inside (I'd say no more than a Cup) or sprinkle some on top of the muffins, if desired and you can have them, before baking if that sounds good to you.  So many options!  Here's the links to my Gluten-Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins and my Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins, as well.
  • Sugar Substitutes: You could use any sugar substitute that is approved for baking for the sugar.  Make sure that you sub it according to the recommendations for that sweetener.  Not all sugar substitutes are subbed with a 1:1 ratio.  I also don't recommend using a liquid sugar substitute as it would greatly alter the moisture content. 
Don't they look delish?

Trust me - they are!